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Uncovering the Hidden and Obvious: A Homeowner's Guide to Latent and Patent Defects

House with a placard outside it saying for sale.
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As we step into 2024, many of you might be considering the significant milestone of purchasing a home. While this journey is exciting, it’s crucial to be aware of potential defects in your future property. Understanding the difference between latent and patent defects is key to making an informed decision and avoiding unforeseen complications.

What are Latent and Patent Defects? In real estate, defects in a property can be categorized into two types: latent and patent defects.

  • Latent Defects are not immediately observable or apparent. They are hidden flaws that require a thorough inspection to be detected.

  • Patent Defects, on the other hand, are obvious and visible issues that can be identified upon basic inspection.

Identifying these defects before finalising your home purchase can save you from future expenses and legal troubles. It ensures that you are fully aware of the condition of the property you are investing in.

Examples and How to Spot Them:

  1. Latent Defects:

  • Faulty Wiring: Hidden behind walls, faulty electrical wiring can pose significant risks.

  • Mold and Mildew: Often concealed in basements or behind walls, especially in older homes.

  • Foundation Issues: Cracks or shifts in the foundation that aren’t obvious can lead to major structural problems.

  1. Patent Defects:

  • Broken Windows: Easy to spot and usually visible during a walk-through.

  • Damaged Roof: Missing shingles or visible wear and tear.

  • Peeling Paint or Visible Water Damage: Obvious signs of neglect or issues that can be seen without detailed inspection.

Understanding your rights regarding latent and patent defects is vital. Sellers are typically required to disclose latent defects they are aware of. However, patent defects are generally considered the buyer’s responsibility to identify before purchase.

As a prospective homeowner in 2024, being informed about latent and patent defects is integral to a successful property purchase. It not only ensures that you're investing wisely but also helps in negotiating repairs or price adjustments with the seller. Remember, the cost of a professional home inspection is small compared to the peace of mind it brings in uncovering what’s hidden beneath the surface.

Protect yourself from the unseen and the obvious; let your journey to homeownership be a well-informed and secure one.


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